Even If My Father and Mother Abandon Me, the Lord Will Hold Me Close
03/12/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – In a country like Indonesia, which holds the world’s largest population of Muslims, every story of enduring faith matters. It seems that many testimonies coming from this country contain elements of hardship and pain, but God is raising up faithful followers to declare His glory. It is especially encouraging to hear of Muslim-background believers who are now living boldly for the Gospel.
Enggar Widya was born and raised in the city of Ambon on Maluku Island in eastern Indonesia. She grew up in a Muslim family that practiced the standard religious rituals. Her grandfather was an Arab who moved to Indonesia with the aim of spreading Islam. In her younger years, she embraced the Muslim faith, although there were times when she struggled to fulfill her obligations as required by the Quran.
As a teenager, Enggar enjoyed collecting bookmarks and stationery. Every Saturday, she would go to a bookstore with money that her mom had given her. “In the bookstore there was a corner for bookmarks,” she explained. “I really loved the words that were on those bookmarks. I started to collect them.”
A man named Yesi, who was also a regular customer at the bookstore, noticed that Enggar always bought a certain type of bookmark. Yesi approached her one day and said, “All of the words on those bookmarks you bought can actually be found in this book.” Yesi showed her a New Testament that contains Psalms and Proverbs. “Why don’t you buy this book, and you will get all of the words.”
Enggar was curious, so she began reading. She started with Psalms and was intrigued with what she was learning. Enggar had a brother whose friends also left a Bible in his room. She would sometimes hide in her brother’s room to read that Bible.
As Enggar became more acquainted with Yesi, she began to ask him questions. She asked him to take her to church, but he encouraged her to find a church on her own instead. He also advised Enggar to pray this prayer, “God of Christians, I want to get to know you.”
She eventually found a church and decided to observe what was happening there. “If the church started at 9:00, I would come at 10:00, sit in the back, and listen to what the pastor had to say,” Enggar recalled. She wanted to know more about what was being taught, and she wanted answers to her questions about the Bible.
One day after work, she stopped at another church and met one of the pastors. She remembers the encounter with that pastor, “I revealed that I wanted to know the Lord Jesus. He invited me to participate in the worship service that was going on at the time. I saw people close their eyes, so I closed my eyes and felt God’s presence fill me. I felt a calm that I had never felt before.” Enggar continued, “The next day I met with the pastor, and I was led to accept Jesus as my God and Savior.”
“I saw people close their eyes, so I closed my eyes and felt God’s presence fill me. I felt a calm that I had never felt before.”
Enggar didn’t realize how much she would have to rely on that peace and presence in the days that followed. Many of her relationships became strained because of her decision to follow Christ.
When Enggar told Yesi of her decision to get baptized, he was not supportive. In fear that Enggar’s family would accuse him of proselytizing, he decided he would no longer be friends with her. Enggar’s mother found out that she was going to church and began questioning her. Her mother found her Bible and bookmarks and burned them. Enggar eventually felt the need to move out of her family’s home and change jobs because her coworkers no longer wanted to communicate with her.
In those difficult days, Enggar had a keychain that was a mini Bible. This was the only Bible she had available to read, and she had to use a magnifying glass to read it. She remembers clinging to Matthew 10:32, “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.”
Enggar recalled an especially intense time with her family, “One time, my sister came from out of town and was eager to meet me. Through my aunt, we finally met. And the meeting was a trap. I took my younger brother to the boarding house where I was staying. It turned out that all of my family members followed us to the boarding house with the aim of taking me home. When I entered my room, my older brother began to push me and slap me with a Bible. Then he tore up the Bible. My family took me home where I faced a trial from 9:00 that night until the next morning. They asked me questions. With much anger, my older brother and mother hit, slapped, spit on, and kicked me. Everyone was angry except for my father.”
Enggar had a very close relationship with her father. Even though he was not angry at the time, he had many questions for her. She knew that if anyone could change her mind, it was her father. Therefore, she prayed for God to give her strength.
During their conversation, the Islamic dawn prayer time arrived. Her father prepared to pray and asked her to join him. When she refused, her father’s attitude changed. In frustration, he raised a hand and said, “Oh God, I have been entrusted with a child. I have raised her with love. But, today I am returning her to you because she does not want to accept you anymore. From today, I will cut her off from our family.” He then asked her to leave the house.
As she was living on her own and continuing to follow Jesus, Enggar heard of a Christian camp for young people being held in Toraja. She attended the camp and decided to stay in Toraja to join Youth With A Mission (YWAM) to learn more about Christianity. She had finally found the right community where she could grow in her faith.
As her faith developed, she began to cling to Psalm 27:10, “Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.”
Reconciliation with her family only started to take shape after many prayers, when her parents eventually agreed to attend her wedding. It was the first time she was able to speak with her father since she left home.
In 2017, Enggar’s father became sick and was in a coma for three days. As her church friends prayed for her, she traveled back home, not knowing if her family would receive her or not. When she arrived at the hospital, her family’s response was negative. With the help of an aunt, Enggar was able to see her father, embrace him, and pray for him. Her mother then allowed her to continue visiting. Her sister would also help distract their mother so that Enggar could pray over her father and whisper Scripture in his ears. Several days later, he came out of the coma and eventually fully recovered.
Although it took years of tears and rejection for Enggar to reconcile with her family, today her parents wholly respect her faith and often come to her for words of wisdom. With God’s abundant grace, Enggar continues to serve as an evangelist in Makassar.
For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org